There were seriously so many awesome middle grade books that came out this year! Although I sadly couldn't get to them all (if only), there were still quite a few I read that I loved. Below, in no particular order, a few of my favorites from 2017. Keep an eye out for a future post of the middle grade reads that I'm most looking forward to in 2018!
My Favorite Reads
The Way to Bea by Kat Yeh (published September 2017)
This was one of my favorite overall reads of the year. I loved the sensitive main character, Bea, as she navigated middle school, changing friendships, and understanding how to be yourself when all kinds of circumstances are pulling you in different directions. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy honest, introspective books that deal with emotions in a realistic way.
Paper Chains by Elaine Vickers (published October 2017)
This book is a follow-up to Like Magic, telling the story of a character from that book as she moves to a new town and has a new best friend. Both girls have secrets and make assumptions that get in the way of their friendship, but they also go through amazing growth to learn how to be brave for one another and for themselves. A lovely book that confronts serious issues of families splitting up and adoption without sacrificing that brutal kid honest that makes a story ring true.
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng (published February 2017)
I think this book was another star of 2017, and will definitely resonate with anyone who loved Carl Sagan's Cosmos as a kid. This book follows a precocious kid named Alex, who wants to win a rocket building contest and ends up on a bigger journey with his dog, Carl Sagan, than he initially anticipated. The book is told through recordings that Alex is making for possible alien lifeforms who may discover his "golden iPod", making for a unique storytelling device as well as a quick read, as it is largely dialog. Still, Cheng manages to incorporate some gut wrenching emotional moments as Alex deals with living with a parent who has issues that he doesn't understand, and living without a deceased father that he knows little about. A funny but insightful read.
Other Notable 2017 Releases
To be honest, so many awesome middle grade books came out this year that I can't really include them all, but here are a few that I feel should be getting a bit more buzz.
The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez (published August 2017)
Confession: when I was in middle school, I totally made zines and listened to punk music and scoffed at all things that I considered suburban and lame, so this book really speaks to me. A lovely, light book about self-expression, figuring out your identity, and determining what it means to feel like you "belong".
It All Comes Down to This by Karen English (published July 2017)
It's 1965 and Sophie has just moved to Los Angeles, where she finds herself on of the few African-American kids in an almost exclusively white neighborhood. Karen English blends the realism of growing up and dealing with shifting family dynamics and being the new kid, along with the historical events of the Watts Riots. A slower paced read that focuses more on the main character and her inner life that will appeal to historical fiction lovers.
Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar (published April 2017)
Inspired by the author's actual experiences growing up in 1960's New York City, this book follows Ruthie, a Cuban-Jewish immigrant who navigates a new culture, a new language, and a horrific car accident. A realistic, inter-sectional book for readers who appreciate character growth and inclusive storytelling.
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend (published October 2017)
And to balance out all of those realistic reads, a bit of magic. Morrigan Crow is fated to die when she turns eleven, but is instead swept away to a magical land by the mysterious Jupiter North for a chance to join the Wundrous Society. This imaginative, wonderful story will definitely draw in fantasy lovers who are Harry Potter fans or fans of other inventive worlds like those of Neil Gaiman. Plus it's always good to mix it up with a bit of the fantastic when reading all of these emotional middle grade books!
Side note: can we take a moment appreciate how awesome the cover art for all of these books is??? I love that middle grade is leading the charge for beautiful, engaging cover art. Anyway, that's all for now from me. I'll be assembling a few other best of 2017 lists for young adult and adult fiction, so keep a look out for future posts.
Until then, happy reading!